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Discussing birth options with your partner

In this article, we look at discussion birth preferences with your partner.
A friend placing a hand on a pregnant woman's baby bump.
© Trinity College Dublin
Earlier on in the course, we looked at the role of your birth partner. One important conversation you should have with them is about your birthing options: how you would like to labour and give birth. They need to know what your thoughts and decisions are and how best they can support you.
Encourage your birth partner to go to classes or courses on pregnancy, birth and baby care so that they know the facts, have a better understanding of definitions, and be more confident in supporting you with your birth options. If you don’t have, or choose not to have, a birth partner, that is no problem – you can let your midwife know what options you prefer.

Feedback from your birth partner

Your birth partner may have suggestions for you, once they are aware of your own birth options or preferences. They might want to do more for you or be more involved in your birth options. It is important that you discuss suggestions with your birth partner now rather than discussing them for the first time when you are having contractions or in other situations where you may be distracted and unable to listen fully. Over time, you and your birth partner will be familiar with your birth options and preferences by talking through them. Doing this means your birth partner will be more confident in speaking up for you.
From having these talks, you also might find out that your birth partner does not want to do some of the things that you have suggested.
  • For example, you may want your birth partner to cut your baby’s cord, but your birth partner might not be comfortable doing this, or may not have realised how involved in the labour and birth that he or she will be, or how involved you would like him or her to be.
Your birth partner will understand the importance of his or her involvement and continued support as you talk about your preferences. For this reason, talking openly and listening to each other is very important.
Your birth partner must be honest in saying yes to the privilege of supporting you in your journey to, and through, labour and birth. At the same time, he or she needs to feel that it is ok to say no. Talk about your birth choices with your birth partner as early as possible, to give them the opportunity to understand and think whether they are the best person to support you through this wonderful event in your life.

How to talk to your birth partner

Here are some questions that might help you bring up some of the trickier questions with your birth partner:
  • Do you know what type of pain relief I would like to have?
  • Would you feel comfortable cutting the baby’s cord?
  • Do you want to see the baby’s head when it comes out?
  • What type of support would I like when I am having contractions?
  • At what stage would I like medical intervention (e.g. an epidural)?
  • What type of birthing environment would I like (e.g. music, low light)?
Thinking about this step:
  • What do you think are the benefits of your birth partner preparing themselves for your labour and birth?
© Trinity College Dublin
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Journey to birth

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